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Keara Mahoney Bocas del Toro

The Podcast: Keara Mahoney in Bocas del Toro, Panama

The fifth episode of the podcast where we speak to Keara Mahoney in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Today we talk about Bocas del Toro and focus a lot on the kind of mindset it takes to make a move to Central America, especially when young.

You might know this already by now, but we’ve jumped on the bandwagon and started a podcast.

The idea is to talk to interesting people in Central America doing interesting stuff, whether they’re a local, an expat, or a visitor.

Our latest guest is Keara Mahoney, a 30-something expat from Vermont living living in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Keara’s our second guest from Panama, our second, in fact, from the Bocas. We spoke to Nico Corea from the Bocas Breeze a few weeks ago about island life in this Caribbean archipelago.

I’ve wanted to chat to Keara for a while though, because she represents a new (ish) breed of expat in this part of the world.

By that, I mean Keara’s someone who came down young.

So many potential transplants to this region think of it as a retirement destination, but Keara represents another type of expat, the type who won’t wait until they’re retired, she wants it now.

As someone who moved to Costa Rica in his 20s, I understand this all too well.

The difference with Keara is that she’s working to set up a coaching program to help others make the transition.


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Keara started her Caribbean journey in the Virgin Islands, on the island of St John, “the Beverley Hills of the Caribbean”.

She met her husband there and they eventually began looking for a different Caribbean… a … dare I say?… more authentic Caribbean?

They found that more laid back, authentic Caribbean vibe on a surf trip to Bocas del Toro, and never looked back.

Talking to Keara is an insight to a mindset I know very well, but can never really encapsulate properly. She, and others like her, represent living proof that you can do it now. You don’t have to wait.

I would go further and say Keara represents a mindset that you SHOULD do it now.

All you need is a readjustment of your mindset.


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One of the only positives to come out of the current COVID crisis is that it’s helped readjust the mindset of people.

Work-from-home is now a thing in a way it never was before. Once upon a time, pre-COVID (remember pre-COVID?), remote working was for “other people”.

Now, in an age where working from home has been forced onto a ton of people who would never even have thought about it before, the concept is a less alien one that it used to be.

So why not do it now? That’s what Keara and others like her represent. She represents another kind of mindset where younger people, in an uncertain world, no longer care so much about investment in monetary sense, but more in a lifestyle sense.

The 2008 financial crisis followed by the current pandemic has made many in their 20s, 30s, and 40s realize there’s more out there than the rat race. Zero job security, massive student debt, and too few jobs have changed the landscape for so many.

Keara and her husband sum up this mindset of investing in a simpler, more healthy lifestyle.

Keara talks about this simpler lifestyle, a lifestyle where she and her husband manage a farm in the Bocas, make sunscreen, run a directory of Bocas businesses, and (my words not hers) work as lifestyle coaches to help others make the same transition.

If you’re nowhere near retirement age but feel the urge to get the hell out of that toxic, unhealthy rat race up north, then Keara’s story should give you hope that you can do it if you want, with the right mindset.


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There’s zero need to wait until you retire.

I enjoyed chatting with Keara, and I hope our conversation gives some insight into the mindset of getting out young and coming to the Caribbean or Central America or wherever makes you feel alive.

To touch base with Keara about life in the Bocas (or Panama in general) follow her on Instagram. Also feel free to show some Instalove to her sunscreen and directory side projects. She’s a great person to know in Bocas del Toro.

As always, when we have these chats with someone, we ask them to recommend something they love about where they live, you know, a little insiders scoop. Today, Keara shows some love to artesenal chocolate makers Cacao Blessings, Green Acres Chocolate Farm, grassroots nonprofit org Planet Rehab, Arboloco (an Afro-Caribbean restaurant), and Caribbean restaurant Recete Michila. Check out the podcast for her insight on all these places.

We hope you enjoy watching (or listening to) our chat with Keara about the mindset of moving abroad.

Please find the podcast at the top of this page (in video format) and again below (in audio format):

This converation is also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcast providers. Feel free to follow us on any of these platforms.


  1. Nicholas Corea from The Bocas Breeze in Bocas del Toro, Panama
  2. Rob Stirr, “The Sausage Guy” in Costa Rica
  3. Aaron Atkey – Chef, Restaurateur, Fisherman, Surfer, and All-Round Facilitator/Nice Guy in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
  4. Talking COVID in Guatemala with Nestor Quixtan
  5. Keara Mahoney in Bocas del Toro, Panama (this page)
  6. The Podcast: Responsible Hiring in Costa Rica for Expats 
  7. Lawrence Cohen, the Expat Musician in Costa Rica 

James Dyde is the editor of He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.

James Dyde

James Dyde

James Dyde is a British immigrant to Costa Rica and the editor of this website. He has lived in Central America since 2000 and retains a deep love for the region. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.